Guidance for session chairs

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Before the session:

  • Check the session format (i.e. presentation, workshop) and the time allocation for it.
  • Workshops and Wildcard sessions – 60 minutes. Any questions or final discussion/summary should aim to start at least 10 minutes before the end. 
  • Presentations – 25 minutes each, with a 10-minute break in between. Be strict! Ideally 20 minutes to present and 5 minutes for questions after each one (the break is a break and allows delegates to move between rooms. It is not time for running over).
  • Lightning talks and resource showcase – 60 minutes. The timings are allocated by the Conference Committee and are communicated to the presenters beforehand. If you are chairing one of these two sessions, we’ll send you the appropriate details as well.
  • Review the abstracts and bios of the presenter(s) in your session and familiarise yourself with their topics and backgrounds.
  • Be prepared to introduce the session and the presenter(s) names/institutions.
  • Check to see if the presenter(s) are taking part in collaborative writing.

What is a chair expected to do?

1. Set up the room*.

For both the online and in-person days, please arrive in the Zoom meeting or the physical room at least 5 minutes before the session is scheduled to begin.

a. On Zoom**:

i. Assign co-host status to the presenters and ask them to share their slides.

ii. If you are chairing a session with two papers, be aware that the second presenter may not join until the break.

* If you have a technical issue, you can contact the CC via the Conference Whatsapp group to which you will be added prior to the conference.

** Note: A member of the Conference Committee will join the meeting before the session begins to assign you host status. The Zoom meetings will be set up by the Administrator in advance of the conference.

b. In-person:

i. Ensure the presenters have their slides loaded onto the computer or laptop in the room.

ii. If you are chairing a session with two papers, both presenters need to arrive before the session starts to load their slides. The second presenter may then opt to join a paper in another room and return during the break.

*If you have a technical issue, you can flag down a member of the CC for assistance. CC members will be identifiable via purple lanyards.

2. Manage the room.

Make sure everyone is settled and paying attention, preferably, when you get started. If it’s a workshop, have participants spread out evenly across tables.

a. On Zoom: you will be the room host.  Please log in before the session starts – participants will be able to join before the host.

i. Be aware that if a Zoom session is running long from the parallel session before, starting your session (if it’s using the same account) will end the previous session.  We want to avoid this, so keeping to time in Zoom meetings will also be key.

ii. Record the session if the presenter(s) is/are happy for you to do so.  Please record to the cloud, not to your desktop. If you’re unsure about whether you should record, check with the presenters and check the conference programme, which lists which sessions are and are not recorded.

iii. Ask delegates to keep themselves muted when not speaking to avoid feedback.


3. Manage the presenters

Make sure you’ve got everyone present who’s supposed to be, and that they have everything they need. Introduce them to the room.

  1. On Zoom: Give co-hosting status to the presenter(s).  For online workshops, check to see if they will need you to set up breakout rooms.

4. Manage questions

Keep track of hands going up; close it down if it looks like running on too long. Try to have a simple question on standby in case no one else asks anything.

a. On Zoom: Depending on the presenter’s set up, they may not be able to see the chat, so keep an eye on questions coming up in the chat.

During the session:

Presentation-related tasks:Promoting collaborative writing:
Check the slides are availablePromote collaborative writing
Introduce the presenter(s)Manage and record questions
Start/end the session on timeOutline answers
Manage time in the session**Note down the audience size

**Agree with presenters how much warning you will give them (5 minutes and then 1 minute is standard). Be firm if necessary. Presentation time starts when the presenter is introduced.

a. On Zoom

  • Please provide the 5 minute and 1-minute warnings verbally. 
  • Make sure to wrap up the session at the end of the parallel session slot – if the meeting overruns, it may be abruptly ended by the next session starting.

b. In-person:

  • Please provide the 5 minute and 1-minute warnings using the signs provided at the conference.

REMEMBER: you run the room. Don’t be shy about bringing it to order; that’s what you’re there for!


After the session:

  • Thank the presenter(s) for their conference contribution and to the attendees for their participation.
  • Add your own reflective paragraph to the collaborative document.
  • Remember to share feedback on how the sessions run in the Conference feedback. 
Making the most of your contribution to the collaborative writing  
As a session chair, your contribution to the collaborative writing is important. Consider the following:
– How was the session received?
– How was the energy in the room? What are the key implications for practice?
– What topics were covered in session activities?
– What topics of debate or discord were covered?
– What links to the conference themes emerged?  
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